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We are family

We are family


Mother's Day is the perfect time to show appreciation for out and proud gay-parented families.

"We are fa-mi-ly!" Most of us have sung along loudly with the classic Sister Sledge song at some point in our lives. As Mother's Day arrives, it appears that the words to our much-beloved LGBT anthem have new meaning: Queer families are more visible than ever. HBO's recent release of All Aboard: Rosie's Family Cruise and ABC's announcement that, at the invitation of Barbara Walters, Rosie O'Donnell will be taking a seat on the daily talk show The View highlight this visibility. As both a mother of 4-year-old twin boys and the head of an organization that promotes equality for LGBT families, I recently found myself at the center of this media focus.

After months of organizing by Family Pride--and enduring the expected attacks from political extremists who would prefer that LGBT families did not exist--my family made our stand with more than 100 other LGBT families and supporters by participating in the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House. My partner, Cheryl, and I and our sons braved the rain and chill of that day to roll brightly colored eggs across the South Lawn and to visit with a number of well-known children's characters, like Cookie Monster, Curious George, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Like the other LGBT families in our group, we wore rainbow leis around our necks to identify ourselves and raincoats on our backs to protect us from the drizzle.

The event was amazing in many ways, but it was also unexpectedly moving. As I stood with my family with the White House just feet away, I was moved by the knowledge that the White House belongs more to me than to whomever its current resident might be. As U.S. citizens, my family and I were claiming our heritage and our right to participate fully and proudly in all aspects of our society. At the same time, however, I had to spend a few minutes that day away from my family debating Bill O'Reilly via cell phone on his radio show and defending our right to participate visibly in the event.

It has been easy in recent years for lesbians and gays to feel disenfranchised within this country. Opponents of our equality have politicized the most intimate aspects of who we are and whom we love. They have attacked our desire to shelter our loved ones with the protections of domestic partnership and civil marriage. They have attacked our desire to expand our families and to provide safe and nurturing homes to children in need of foster care and adoption. They have objectified our families and used us as a "wedge issue" to influence elections. Our opponents would have the American public believe that lesbians and gays are somehow separate from the rest of the country.

However, the reality is that we are--and always have been--an integral part of American society and history. And we will be a part of its future as well. "We the People" includes lesbian and gay individuals and our families. In the current legal and political climate, it is as important for us to remember that fact as it is for us to educate others. When we wore rainbow leis to the White House Easter Egg Roll, we identified ourselves as a part of the fabric of American society. In addition, we were able to look out across the expanse of the lawn and see other families like ours enjoying the festivities. Just as our raincoats protected us from the rain, our rainbow leis protected us from invisibility.

Whenever we introduce ourselves, we take another step towards achieving equality. When we tell the full story of our lives and our families, we humanize ourselves to those who might not know us or might deny our place in American society. We make it that much harder for our opponents to objectify us and use us as a means to achieve their political ends. When the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas came down, our sexual lives became legal. But the harsh fact is that our family lives are not. The attacks continue, and our opponents are organized and well funded. We have not made so much progress that we can rest on our laurels or lessen our vigilance.

Now more than ever it is time for us to stand up and introduce ourselves. It is time for us to say it loud and say it proud: "We are family."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Jennifer Chrisler